For the past couple days, I've been playing with Google's new $35 device for your TV, the Chromecast. It works simply: You plug it into the back of your TV and a power source, hook it up to the wifi through your computer, and thereafter, you can toss ("cast") anything from a Chrome browser tab to the television.
While friends of the blog like Wired's Mat Honan are excited about the "miracle device," others like Buzzfeed's John Hermann think it's no great shakes. John Gruber argues, "I just don't get why anyone would want this."
Viewed largely as a video transmission gadget, Gruber's point is well taken. There are at least two good options for getting computery video onto a TV: Apple TV (at $99) and Roku (at $50). Chromecast is $35. The Apple TV has Airplay and is all-around a bit more capable (though no Flash allowed). The Roku lets you access Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, and it works fine.
But I don't think Chromecast is just for video. It's for anything. It's fun and a little magical to be able to cast literally anything to your biggest screen. Sure, there's Netflix or a streaming music service like Rdio or Spotify. But there's also a random YouTube video embedded in a blog post. There's the New York Times. There's pornography and the Prelinger Archives and your Gmail and big old PDFs and barackobamaisyournewbicycle.com. You can put anything on that screen, and Google makes it feel effortless.